Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Types of Pieces

I realized that I'd never introduced the different types of pieces available at many lolita shops! That's very important to know, because each work in different ways. I'm going to be using Baby the Stars Shine Bright for my examples here because it is my favorite brand and it is also one of the most recognizable to newcomers.

There are two major types of dresses, One-piece dresses (abbreviated to OP) and Jumper-skirts (abbreviated to
JSKs). One-piece dresses are just as they sound, one piece. It's a dress that has sleeves. Sometimes they are long sleeves and are detachable to turn into a short-sleeve dress, other times they only have one sleeve option.
Jumper skirts are sleeveless and come in a wide variety of cuts and necklines. They are typically worn over a blouse or cutsew, or underneath a bolero or a cardigan. Often, companies will release a one piece version and a jumper skirt version of the same print, as seen below.

Blouses are a staple of a lolita wardrobe. They also come in a variety of cuts, styles, and colors. Some may have shirring in the back or all the way around. Shirring is embedded elastic into a piece to allow it to stretch more than it originally could. This allows for a wide range of sizes to wear a company's products.
Cutsews or cut and sewn items are typically made from knit materials, the same fabrics that t-shirts are made from. They stretch and are generally more casual in style. Both blouses and cutsews come in different sleeve styles, collar styles, and cuts.
Blouse vs. Cutsew

Typically, skirts are worn very full with petticoats and bloomers underneath them. They can also be a-line and have less of a poof shape. Petticoats give the skirts a cupcake or bell shape that is the key to the lolita silhouette. These also come in many styles and cuts. They are worn with either a blouse or a cutsew.

Headpieces are very important in lolita fashion and are often overlooked. There are many different styles, but some can be more tricky to coordinate with than others. Popular styles include the head bow, headdress, bonnets, hats, and hair ties.

Socks and Shoes
Lolitas generally wear over the knee (shortened to OTK) socks or opaque tights. These can have prints or patterns on them, or can be a solid color. Many companies make matching socks for their popular prints. Shoes are also a tricky business. Generally, lolita does not include stiletto heels, platform shoes (there are a few exceptions), and flip-flops. However, outside of those, pretty much anything goes. There are "official lolita style" shoes such as rocking horse shoes (RHS for short), Mary Janes, and the ever-popular "tea party shoes" produced by Angelic Pretty. As long as your shoes match your outfit and look good, it should be okay. I personally like to wear flats with a lot of my coordinates, but it's up to you!

This is an extremely important part of the outfit, which is the most overlooked part by new lolitas. You need a petticoat for sure. This is what gives skirts and dresses that poofy shape. There are many different petticoats to choose from, but you always want to see a photo of it underneath a skirt to make sure it will give that poof. The best one that I've seen available (for a reasonable price) is the Fluffy Petticoat from Candy Violet. It gives a great shape, it's not too expensive, it's made from soft chiffon (so it's not itchy), and it won't deflate (which happens to petticoats made from tulle or net).

Bloomers are also important, but many girls choose not to wear them. Wearing them keeps you a little warmer, protects you from "upskirt issues," and generally add a little something more to an outfit. Pretty much any bloomers are okay, because they should not be seen. They're easy to make too. Brands do make their own bloomers (often called drawers).

Other Stuff
Many companies also make coats, parasols/umbrellas, purses, wrist cuffs, cell phone straps, jewelry, wallets, and gloves. These items are nice, but they aren't really necessary for anyone to have. You can find plenty of purses, jewelry, and even parasols at your local mall or online from American and European stores.

I hope this was helpful! Now you know about the different clothing types and pieces, but more importantly, you know the abbreviations for these items. These abbreviations are used probably more than the actual words themselves, so they're super important to know. I think that's the last of the basics, so if you have a question or something you'd like to see me write about, let me know on my Formspring!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Choosing Your First Pieces

By now, you should have a few styles that you're interested in, some colors that would look good on you, and now you need to start creating a wardrobe! There are a few ways to go about this. If you know how to sew, you can make your own pieces. There are plenty of tutorials and patterns online that can help you get started. I recommend checking out the livejournal community Sew_loli if you're interested in sewing your own stuff. If you aren't confident in your sewing skills or you just don't want to make something like that, then you can buy your first pieces. Many Japanese companies will ship to Europe and the United States, as well as Asia, Australia, and many other places. There are also American based companies, European companies, and other Asia based companies. You can also buy from Etsy shops or other craft sites. You can also choose to buy second hand. You can get pieces second hand from the Livejournal community egl_comm_sales or from ebay. I strongly suggest that you avoid ebay because there have been problems in the past of misrepresentation of products and bad transactions.

Brand vs. Offbrand
This is a point of many arguments in the lolita community. Personally, I do think Bodyline is okay as long as you use your judgement and choose the right things. I don't think that replica pieces, as long as they are advertised as so, are terrible. These things help lolitas fill out their wardrobe and they allow those that are just starting out to experiment with different styles and prints without spending a fortune.

Choosing Versatile Pieces
You want to get the most out of your first pieces because you will be wearing them a lot until you can get more. So choose pieces that can be used in lots of different ways. A good way to do this is to use Polyvore. Polyvore lets you make virtual coordinates (the term lolitas use for complete outfits) and see what will look good together before you buy. You would be surprised how many different outfits you can make from just a few pieces.

This is a coordinate I made using a Baby the Stars Shine Bright jumper skirt. Everything else used is either from Bodyline (very inexpensive) or from other sources.

This is one made from the same Baby the Stars Shine Bright dress, but using all offbrand items. Jewelry is something that you can find in all sorts of places, Forever 21 is my favorite.

This is a third coordinate also made from the same BABY dress as the others. As you can see, this dress is very suited to either classic or country styles. Pretty much anything can be dressed down to be more casual too. So out of this one expensive dress, you can put just a little money into other pieces and have three fabulous outfits.

Maybe you can't afford to get a brand dress right off the bat. That's fine too! My first pieces were skirts from Candy Violet's old line (no longer sold). I still have one of them that I wear regularly. You can also have someone make you pieces or buy second-hand. I've bought almost everything I own second hand. There is no stigma associated with it, and it's a great way to get older pieces or find something that you didn't even know existed. Since the pieces are typically used, the price is lowered too.

Bodyline is also a good choice for a first outfit. As long as you choose wisely, you'll be fine. For more information about choosing pieces from Bodyline, I highly recommend reading F-Yeah Lolita's posts on buying from Bodyline. I adore the series of posts and they've helped me learn more about buying from Bodyline. They are a must-read before placing an order there.

No matter what you choose, congratulations! You're now a lolita! You have your very first pieces and you're on your way to having the wardrobe of your dreams!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Basics #2: Choosing Colors

So now you know a little about all the different styles of lolita, and maybe you've even picked a few to try out. Now you need to decide what colors you want to wear. There are just somecolors that don't look good with different complexionsor hair colors. For example, I have medium-tone red hair and skin with pink undertones. Because of this combination, I don't look good in most pinks and yellows. This also goes for hair colors.

Determining Your Skin Tone
Before you put on any make-up, look at yourself in a mirror or take a picture, preferably on a white background. You all know what your hair color is, even if you've dyed it, think about your original one. The four skin tones are like the four seasons,
winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Winter: has blue or pink undertones. Your actual skin color could be dark, olive, or extremely pale. You probably have dark hair and dark eyes.

Spring: usually has golden undertones and creamy or peachy skin. Your hair color is either very deep blonde or strawberry blonde. Your eyes are probably blue or green. You probably have naturally rosy cheeks.

Summer: Also can have blue or pink undertones. Your skin tone is probably pale and pink. You also probably have light-color eyes and naturally blonde or brown hair.

Fall: If you have golden undertones and either red or brown hair, you're probably a fall. You also probably have brown or goldish eyes.

Now you know a little bit about the different skin tones. Determining your skin tone is the first step in determining the colors that will look best on you and the ones to avoid. As a reference, I use Beauty and the Bath.com. That site also has a ton of information on hair care, make-up techniques, and a lot of other stuff. Please check it out! I've linked the page for the different skin tones, but from there you can get to the whole website.

Now for example, I am a fall. I have red hair and blue eyes with gold flecks. I should not be wearing pastel colors, especially near my face. They will make me look dull and sickly. However, black can make me look awesome. As a result, I have a few kuro coordinates and no Angelic Pretty prints. Do you know what your color pallet should be now? If the website above didn't help you out, you can google your season and see what comes up. There are tons of helpful sites out there!

Photos from Google images and http://beauty-and-the-bath.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Becoming A Lolita: The Basics

This will be an ongoing series of posts based on my panels at various conventions. This panel often gets a different name depending on the major focus. This particular post is what I usually do for my "lolita 101" panel or an equivalent one to that. It's directed towards those who want to take the first step into the world of lolita. Do you know anyone like this? I do! I have a few friends that want to become a lovely lolita lady but they really doesn't know how. So this first post is dedicated to them!

Step 1: So you want to be a lolita?
Great! Being a lolita is a fun and rewarding hobby. But before you buy your first items, you should do your homework. For example, do you know the different styles of lolita? Everyone knows gothic and sweet lolita, but there are tons of styles!

Gothic: A very recognizable style. It's not just black pieces though. Gothic can have dark reds, blues, or even jewel tones like rich purples and ruby. It's not to be confused with American gothic styles, and should not feature whiteface with dark makeup!

Sweet: Very cute and innocent. Pastels and white are popular colors, but you can wear black and be a sweet lolita! The prints usually are cute with animals, toys, candy, or cakes as the focus.

Classic: features floral prints and classic silhouettes. Often skirts can deviate from the cupcake-shaped ones of other styles. Also can utilize vintage pieces and simple hairstyles/makeup.

Casual: an easy style to wear everyday. It's all of the pieces of a lolita outfit, but toned down. Instead of a fancy, lacy blouse, you can wear a cute printed t-shirt (or cut-sew). It's still important that you match your colors and patterns and that you don't forget a part of the outfit, like a headpiece or a petticoat.

Kuro: In Japanese, Kuro (くろ)means "black." And that's what you wear, black. All black items.

Shirou: The sister style to Kuro, Shirou(しろう)means "white" in Japanese. Shirou lolita features all white items. It used to be quite popular to do twin photo shoots with kuro and shirou lolitas, but I haven't been seeing too many recently.

Country: Country is a mix between sweet and classic. This is where you find the ginghams, fruit prints, miniature straw hats, and baskets. It's reminiscent of a country picnic in the summer. Some country lolitas even choose to use fresh flowers to accessorize their outfits!

Punk: This style has been more influenced by the west than any other. It is reminiscent of British and American punk styles, but with a lolita twist. Skirts can be somewhat shorter, and plaids are very popular. Ties are appropriate in this style, along with simpler tops and crazier hair styles.

Sailor: Many brands put out pieces that are inspired by the typical sailor uniform worn by Japanese school students. It's not an extremely popular style by itself, but often the pieces can be integrated into other styles.

Pirate: It's a fairly new sub-style of classic lolita. It often features tricorner hats, belts, swords, and lots of jewelry. It can get close to becoming costume-y though so you have to be careful. The only "official brand" for pirate style is Baby the Stars Shine Bright's other line, Alice and the Pirates.

Hime: This is a hybrid between lolita and Hime Gyaru styles. It features the same hairstyle and accessories as the Gyaru style, but the silhouette and anatomy of a lolita coordinate. Pieces can overlap between the two styles, as well as color schemes and prints.

Kodona: Also known as Ouiji, Dandy, or boy style. It's one of the few styles in which it is okay to wear pants! It's based off of the clothes that young boys would have worn in the 1800's. Sometimes, the wearer will choose to add feminine touches in the shoes or make- up, it's up to you! It can also be easily mixed with the punk style for a cool hybrid.

Aristocrat: Also known as Elegant Gothic Aristocrat. It is a more mature style of lolita, with longer skirts and fewer frills. Often, skirts are ankle length and blouses are long sleeved and high collared. The shape is not at all what other styles are, but it is a very elegant silhouette. There are also aristocrat styles based off of mensware from Victorian England.

Common misconceptions about styles:
You would be surprised at how many questions I get about styles that don't exist. For example, I got a question at a convention about where this person could purchase "maid style lolita." There is no such thing! There are websites out there that will tell you that maid uniforms, nurse uniforms, cosplays, and even Alice in Wonderland costumes from a costume store are appropriate lolita items. I always tell people the same thing: absolutely not! Even if your Chii cosplay may fit some of the requirements for a lolita outfit, it will never work. This is because people will always recognize you as a Chii cosplayer. This point always earns me skeptical looks from the cosplayers in the room. But trust me, it isn't a proper lolita coordinate.

So now you know a little bit more about the different styles of lolita. What did you think? Did you see a few that appeal to you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Welcome to The Elegant Wardrobe

Hi everyone! This is my newest undertaking, a blog about my adventures in lolita fashion! I so very much admire all of the lolita bloggers out there and I want to be one too! I hope to be able to update a lot, but if I can't, it's because I am also a full-time student. The title of my blog, The Elegant Wardrobe, is the title of the lolita panels I do at conventions. I'm still new to paneling on lolita, but I have been a very successful panelist for about two years now. So from time to time I'll put my panel stuff up here for others to see and even use at their conventions if they'd like.

Introducing myself
I've been a lolita for almost four years now. My relationship with the fashion is a love-hate one. I love the sweet prints and the cute candy/bunny/rainbow accessories, but I can't wear them. I'm a red-head, so pink is pretty much automatically eliminated from my wardrobe possibilities. Secondly, I am a college student, so I know that I should try and dress myself in a more mature manner. But I can't help but love cute things! If there were a Hello Kitty print dress, I think I'd buy it, no matter what color is was. So I've made compromises in my wardrobe. Instead of being OTT sweet, I go for a bittersweet or classic style. I think my favorite brand has to be Baby the Stars Shine Bright. I also tend to create a lot of kuro coordinates. Being a completely kuro lolita is boring though, so I try to branch out. I collect Ball-Joint Dolls, so my funds for my hobbies are split in half. As for my lolita inspiration, I really admire Julie Andrews. She just exudes elegance, and so I'd like to think of her as my lolita roll model.

What Should You Expect?
Not much. I'm not a professional writer, I don't plan to be one, and therefore, I will write here as I would talk. So please don't expect eloquent writing or anything. I will be sharing my opinions on the fashion here, and some of those opinions may not be popular. For instance, I like Bodyline. I'm not ashamed to admit it either. So if you can't be nice in your comments, please don't bother commenting at all. Golden rule here. If there's something you want me to write on or something you'd like to see done here, don't hesitate to let me know!